A Second Take on HP’s Discontinuation of PageWide Office Products

Big things expected from HP’s A3 laser line moving forward

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08/26/2021

George Mikolay

 

HP’s decision to discontinue the sale of its PageWide office products in late July may have come as a shock to many…but should it have? Granted, while we were all truly surprised with the move, the writing may have been on the wall dating back several years.

 

HP PageWide Managed Color MFP P77940dns

 

For one, the A3 inkjet lineup for HP was last refreshed in 2017 and 2018. That’s a long time considering that, on the A3 laser side, HP’s lineup has been refreshed every two years. There were also intermittent reports on poor performance of the HP PageWide products in the field, in which reliability was (at times) an issue in higher volume accounts. And as mentioned in our piece last month, to get the best image quality possible, HP specified that PageWide devices should use a particular grade of paper. Yet, dealers found that some customers were reluctant to do so, leading to dissatisfaction with the devices.

 

The pandemic has not helped matters and may in fact be one of (if not the) major underlying factor in this decision. More and more people are working from home on a full-time basis, while others are working in more hybrid environments, only going to the office a few days per week. While the future office configuration is yet to be determined, the industry may never return to its pre-pandemic levels in the higher volume office space. Given these factors, there is less of a need to have two technologies competing over the same environments, essentially cannibalizing one another. This is especially true when one (in this case PageWide) is likely to have been missing the ROI mark considering lower than anticipated sales.

 

The PageWide line, and its message regarding sustainability and energy saving, resonated much stronger in Europe than in North America. No doubt there is a bias toward laser in North America, as laser is the dominant technology in the office space. And according to HP, the difference between office laser and inkjet technologies has been significantly decreasing when it comes to device footprint, acquisition cost, ongoing running costs, and energy consumption.

 

In addition, we have seen steady improvement in performance over time as the last several generations of HP’s A3 laser products have come into our labs for testing. In fact, HP’s most recent A3 laser lineup tacked on more than 1.5 million impressions in our labs across speed segments two though four (21-69 ppm), and collectively earned an average reliability score of 9.5 out of 10, or Excellent, overall.  If that kind of performance growth continues, HP is strongly positioning itself to become a major player in the A3 laser space with what we assume will be their upcoming generation of products.

 

With this news of HP’s departure, Epson (to a large degree) will be the sole provider of line-head inkjet technology in the office space. What’s different with Epson is that, unlike HP and Canon, inkjet is its core fundamental technology. Epson is very likely to continue investing in inkjet, and in all the advantages it believes inkjet to hold in the office space moving forward. We’ll be talking to Epson in early September to get their take on HP’s inkjet exit, and more on its strategy, as the company embarks on the journey of being the flag bearer for inkjet technology in the office in the years ahead.

 

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